Born in 1936, Cecil Chao Sze-tsung is a Hong Kong based real estate tycoon and chairman of HK-listed developer Cheuk Nang Holdings. Known for his flamboyant playboy lifestyle, Chao raised eyebrows the world over in September 2012 when he announced a HK$ 500 million bounty to look for a man who could win the heart of his daughter Gigi Chao, who is believed to be lesbian and have married her partner in a civil union overseas.
Money still can't buy my love, says Gigi Chao after tycoon father doubles 'dowry' to HK$1b
Even a billion dollars would not be enough to find a man that Gigi Chao, the lesbian daughter of property tycoon Cecil Chao Sze-tsung, would be willing to marry.
"I don't think my dad's offering of any amount of money would be able to attract a man I would find attractive," she told the South China Morning Post after her father announced he had doubled the HK$500 million "dowry" that he had earlier offered in an effort to find her a husband.
In an interview with the Malaysian newspaper Nanyang Siang Pau, Chao lamented that although his initial offer of HK$500 million in 2012 attracted more than 20,000 suitors, none succeeded in winning Gigi's heart. "I don't want to interfere with my daughter's private life," Cecil Chao said in the January 20 interview.
"I only hope for her to have a good marriage and children as well as inherit my business."
He also insisted that his daughter was still single and said he believed it was not too late to change Gigi's thinking because she was only 33.
In an exclusive interview with the Post, Gigi responded to her father's latest offer.
"First of all, I'm concerned about his use of the word 'dowry' in an Asian country, as it is well known that dowry deaths are a human rights concern in India, and I don't want people to step backward on hearing this news," she said.
"Secondly, I don't think my dad's offering of any amount of money would be able to attract a man I would find attractive. Alternatively, I would be happy to befriend any man willing to donate huge amounts of money to my charity, Faith in Love, provided they don't mind that I already have a wife. Third and lastly, thank you Daddy, I love you too," she said.
In an interview in September 2012, she said her father's offer had made her realise she was "a really lucky girl to have such a loving daddy, because it's really sweet of him to do something like this as an expression of his fatherly love".
In her latest interview, she told the Post that the news of the new bounty had made her partner of nine years, Sean Eav, "distraught".
She said she had repeatedly told her father to stop talking to the press about the bounty, but "well what can I say, we live separate, private lives after all".
Gigi is an executive director at her father's Cheuk Nang property development company and spends much of her time doing charitable work as the founder and chairwoman of the Faith in Love Foundation, which works to encourage volunteering and to alleviate poverty. Gigi is also an outspoken advocate for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights. She is a founding member of the gay rights group Big Love Alliance, along with lawmakers and celebrities including artistes Anthony Wong and Denise Ho. The alliance works to reduce discrimination against sexual minorities through public education and support networks.
Gigi says her father's persistence in trying to get her married to a man had not hurt their relationship.
"I understand that he loves me, it's just he's from another time and it's difficult for him to understand the plight of the LGBT [community]. At the office it's business as usual. At family gatherings we hug and dance. And we just agree to disagree on what marriage is and family is," she said.
Pink Alliance chairman Reggie Ho Lai-kit said it was common for parents to go through phases of shock and denial when they learned of the sexual orientation of their children.
"Mr Chao is still going through the denial process, thinking money can solve any problem including those involving his daughter," Ho said.
Some parents, he said, would move from denial to acceptance, while others could never reach that stage. But they could choose how to handle the matter to avoid damaging family relations. "Parents should talk to their children on an equal footing … it is the biggest mistake to use their power to change a person," Ho said.
Gigi's receptionist has received some strange telephone calls, most opening their conversation with, "I want to be a billionaire!"
Additional reporting Amy Nip
Watch: Gigi Chao: 'Love shall prevail.'